Entering the Latin American market is no easy task. With multiple payment options, and alternative payment methods, supporting the Latin American market takes a solid understanding of Ecommerce in the region.
Payment Magnates was fortunate to speak with Sergio Fogel, the CEO of Astropay, to discuss their place in the Latin American market, strategies, and their new partnership with Mt. Gox.
Payment Magnates: Could you please give us a description of AstroPay and what services you offer?
Sergio Fogel: Astropay is the leading cross-border payment processor in Latin America. Throughout Latin America, so-called Alternative Payments are in fact the mainstream. For a variety of reasons, Latin Americans prefer to pay using bank transfer or cash methods (such as Brazil’s famous Boleto), rather than with a credit card. Unfortunately these methods are not available to companies that are not established in the country. That is where we step in. We allow companies to collect money using local methods without the hassle and costs of a local presence.
PM: What countries, currencies and payment methods does AstroPay support?
SF: Today we are active in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. We are adding new countries all the time, and we expect to cover the entire region in the next few quarters. Regarding payment methods, the list is just too long, but it includes the most popular methods in each country.
PM: What online industries does AstroPay support?
SF: We support most industries, including ecommerce, cloud services, travel, forex, gaming and virtual currencies. Some industries may not be available in every jurisdiction, that depends on regulation.
PM: What are the fees involved for merchants who decide support AstroPay?
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SF: Fees vary according to the risk profile of each industry, and according to the country and payment method.
PM: What advice would you give to merchants interested in entering the Latin American market? Are there any specificities to take into account for maximum success?
SF: You need to plan the entry into Latin America carefully, otherwise you will see very low conversion numbers, and therefore a low return on investment. One of the main causes for low conversion rates is precisely the lack of local payment alternatives. Another important issue has to do with languages. Brazilian Portuguese is not the same as the Portugal one. The situation is worse with Spanish, where there are many different varieties.
PM: We recently saw that AstroPay has partnered with Mt.Gox. Could you expand on the new relationship and what it will entail?
SF: Latin Americans are eager to buy Bitcoins, but getting money into Mt. Gox or Bitstamp is not easy. Worse, it may take over 1 week for the funds to be available to trade, and 1 week is a very long time in the Bitcoin world. With Astropay, users can be buying Bitcoins in seconds.
PM: With providing support to a Bitcoin exchange like Mt.Gox, what are the regulations and policies involved?
SF: We take Compliance very seriously, and so do the exchanges. For Bitcoin purchases, our role is that of a money remittance company, and we apply all the rules and regulations that apply to that type of transaction.
PM: Speaking of Bitcoin, what are your thoughts, and where do you see its position in the marketplace in the future? Do you think it could pose a threat to more conventional means of payment?
SF: Bitcoin is big, but it is still tiny compared to the payments industry. I expect Bitcoin to continue to grow very fast, but it will take many years until it becomes a threat for conventional means of payment. I also think that new forms of payment based on Bitcoin will emerge, but with higher levels of protection for the consumer.